Winter sunseekers, watersports-lovers and diving disciples all know that the Red Sea is the place to be. Year-round sunshine and world-class conditions for everything from snorkelling to kitesurfing mean travellers return to the Red Sea time and again. And while holidays here are all about being outdoors, that doesn’t mean they have to be actively outdoorsy. If leisurely and lazy is your ideal pace, you won’t be disappointed, because there’s always a beach or boat deck ready to be lounged upon. Whatever’s on your wish list for the perfect holiday, here’s our round-up of our favourite things to do in the Red Sea.
- See Wonders Beneath the Waves
- Get Your Kicks Kitesurfing
- Run to the Winter Sun
- Set Out on a Desert Safari
- Sip Sundowners on a Sunset Cruise
- Admire Ancient Landscapes
The Red Sea is pure paradise for those who love exploring the undersea scenery. Calm, clear waters, colourful coral reefs and magical marine life make this one of the best places on the planet for snorkelling and diving. Want to swim with sharks? The island of Umm Qamar is famous for its finned residents. Want to explore the wreck of a wartime cargo ship? The sunken SS Thistlegorm sits on the seabed in the Ras Mohammed Nature Reserve, one of 20 different dive sites to discover in the reserve. Want to find Nemo’s friends? Snorkel the reefs to spot the Red Sea clownfish, which is unique to the region. Whether you’re a complete novice or a diving devotee, this natural aquarium has it all.
The Red Sea is one of the global capitals of kitesurfing. And it’s a great place for beginners to give the sport a go. The secluded, sandy-bottomed shallows are learner-friendly. The water is warm, so bikinis or board shorts will suffice. And the wind blows readily and reliably to provide a steady source of fuel for your kite. First-timers take note: this is one of the most enjoyable and exhilarating things to do in the Red Sea. So, your inaugural kitesurfing session might just be the first of many. To kite-sleep-repeat in style, we recommend a kite safari; sailing between the best spots on a luxury yacht, before hitting the water and letting the breeze take the lead.
At the first hint of a freezing forecast back home, you might hear the Red Sea Riviera calling your name. Egypt’s eastern coastline is hot and dry most of the year. But with average daytime highs of 31 degrees in December, the region is the perfect place for a winter warmer. From the much-loved resort towns of Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh to the pristine beaches of Marsa Alam, shimmering sands and wall-to-wall sunshine come as standard here. And the bath-warm water means that even if diving or snorkelling aren’t your style, a leisurely swim is always one of the finest things to do in the Red Sea. For a blissful day trip, set sail for Mahmya Island. It’s a Caribbean copycat of unspoilt sands, swimmable waters and unmissable sunsets, just a 40-minute boat ride from Hurghada. Visitor numbers are also carefully managed, minimising overcrowding and preserving the tranquillity of this year-round gem.
Ready for an adrenaline-fuelled adventure? A desert safari is one of the most popular things to do in the Red Sea region when you’re back on dry land. Whether your transport of choice is a quad bike or 4x4, it’s a fun and fast-paced way to experience the desert. You might find yourself speeding across the sand towards a hazy horizon or visiting traditional Bedouin villages to get an insight into local life. For gorgeously golden light or captivating constellations in the clearest skies, we recommend a sunset or starlight safari. Or for a more relaxed pace, opt for a camelback or horseback tour to discover the dramatic desert scenery of rolling dunes and rippling sand from your saddle.
When you’re feeling salty and sun-kissed from a day on or in the water, a private sunset cruise is the cherry on the cake. Or should that be the umbrella in your cocktail? Spend a few hours lounging on deck, drink in hand, while the sun slips behind the Red Sea Mountains and the sky is painted pink and gold. It’s a divine way to end the day. And it’s the perfect time to reflect on the memorable moments you’ve enjoyed so far – or plan tomorrow’s fun in the sun.
While sea and sand are the main attractions when visiting the Red Sea, you can also travel back in time during a day trip to the ancient temples of Luxor. Easily accessible from the main coastal resorts, Luxor is one of the world’s most epic open-air museums. Tour the courtyards and chapels of Hatshepsut Temple, set among imposing limestone cliffs. Discover the UNESCO-listed Valley of the Kings, an astounding ancient burial site for Egypt’s pharaohs (including King Tutankhamun). And wander the grand temple complex of Karnak, one of the largest places of worship ever constructed. Visiting Luxor brings ancient Egypt to life for the modern traveller; a once-in-a-lifetime trip that can be effortlessly added to your Red Sea itinerary.